One swallow a summer does not make, but two swallows? Probably still not enough for a turning point, however much we’d like the UK to crack its productivity problem.
Official figures continue to point to a buoyant Northern Ireland labour market in the third quarter of 2017. Private sector jobs notched up a thirteenth consecutive quarterly rise and are at their highest level since records began in 1974. Public sector job losses have stabilised (at least for the time being) and are around 10% below their 2009 peak. Overall, Northern Ireland has almost 19,000 more jobs (+3%) than at the pre-recession peak. Significantly, there has been a pick-up in full-time employment growth in Q3 which had previously been lagging behind the surge in part-time employment.
The UK economy can chalk up 2017 as a decent, if unspectacular, 12 months. Growth will likely be slower this year compared to last, but not by much. The trouble is some signs of weakening are appearing, most importantly on the jobs front, after what has been a lengthy period of economic expansion. A bumpier 2018 ahead?
President Trump has promised to unveil a spectacular reform of the US tax system in the next few weeks to boost the economy. Meanwhile the labour market has been producing spectacular results itself.
Ambitious. The number of Americans in work rose by 227,000 in January and the unemployment rate held steady at 4.8%. During President Obama’s second term employment increased by 12 million (8%), impressive alongside the UK’s still-respectable 3%. President Trump aims to add 25 million jobs over a decade. That’s very ambitious indeed but there are historical precedents: both the Reagan and Clinton administrations saw rates of job growth that, if repeated, would see the target being met. But they both arrived at the White House towards the end of recessions, Trump’s task is harder.
Today sees the release of August data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by Markit – pointed to a rise in activity following the previous month’s decline. That said, new orders decreased for the second successive month. The rate of input cost inflation accelerated to the fastest since November 2011 and firms also raised their output prices at a sharper pace. Continue reading
If you’re walking in the dark it’s useful to know where you’re starting from. With Q2 GDP growth confirmed at 0.6%, supported by decent data for June, we can be confident that the UK economy started the summer in decent shape.
Last week saw jobs and wages rise whilst inflation and interest rates stayed flat. Economists fret about slow productivty growth and the damage that does in the long term. But right now conditions could be much worse. Continue reading
A deluge of inflation data and speeches from central bankers put monetary policy in the spotlight last week. Whilst the US is talking up the chances of it raising rates this Summer, at least one of the UK’s rate setters is seriously considering voting to cut rates later this year.
The latest Northern Ireland Labour Market Report was publish this week. A fall in the economic inactivity rate over the quarter and the year was perhaps the main story. The rate has fallen to a record low. Are Northern Ireland’s welfare reforms finally working? Continue reading